Amex Platinum Hotel Credit
Many Amex fans, myself included, have enjoyed the ride recently. We’ve had a few solid months of +5 referral bonuses, ongoing no lifetime language offers, and some fresh upgrade possibilities, as well. Outstanding elevated welcome offers seem to feel normal now, too. But recently, I noticed Amex implemented something sneaky. Based on my experience, the Amex Platinum Hotel Credit has devalued. Here’s what I discovered and why Platinum cardholders should care.
Hmm, That’s Weird
I’ve liked using the Amex Platinum Hotel Credit, $200 back annually on a Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection stay (two night minimimum for HC), since its inception a few years ago. Focusing exclusively on FHR stays, I’ve grown to love the useful benefits without going significantly out of pocket. Not coincidentally, I like to plan these stays well in advance.
For the past few months, I’ve checked Amex Travel for FHR booking opportunities, including for 2024 stays. But 2024 dates have been grayed out and unavailable to book. Initially, I assessed that it was just a bit too early to book, and things would open up as we progressed in 2023. Nonetheless, in previous years, I recall future year bookings were available earlier. Late last month, I got tired of waiting.
I chatted with an agent on the Amex Travel site. Long story short, the agent claimed Fine Hotels and Resorts rates for 2024 won’t be bookable until November 2023. Here’s a bit more from our conversation.
Everything started out nice enough with the chat agent. But she wasted no time telling me the bad news:
I was taken aback a bit by that initial response, essentially telling me to wait until November for 2024 reservations. But the agent continued:
That’s a good chunk to chew on. I must say I admired the agent getting so into the weeds. These nuances are where many active hobbyists live. I wanted more clarification, and I also took this as an optimal opportunity to ask:
The agent said a lot there, and it seems like bad news. In my view, this jargon is indicative of Amex’s issues managing existing reservations and subsequent changes. It seems Amex is encouraging cardholders into booking (e.g. using the credit) and staying within the same calendar year.
At this point, I wanted to drill down a bit more. I didn’t want to falsely assume anything. Was the agent really meaning what I think she said? I had an engaged chat agent here, and my curiosity continued.
The agent backed off a bit above, alluding to the chance that some 2024 rates for certain properties may be available earlier in 2023. I wanted to make one last statement for the record, as if doing so mattered. Some may read this as me complaining, while I consider it clarity. Perhaps both can be true.
I’d spent plenty of time on this, and I wasn’t looking to get in a prolonged search of individual properties with an agent. I simply thanked the agent for their help and ended the chat.
Why Platinum Cardholders Should Care
First, I’m providing a friendly reminder that the annual $200 Amex Platinum Hotel Credit is based on the calendar year. Attentive cardholders can obtain this credit twice within the same cardmember year and without paying a second year annual fee. For the second credit use closer to the year two annual fee (when many will consider cancelling their account), cardholders will have less flexibility to book into the future.
Beyond that, travel planners hoping to line up other reservations, like airline or activities, won’t be able to book FHR reservations on the same timeline. Everything becomes more complicated.
And perhaps that’s what Amex wants. Make the process more convoluted to the point where cardholders forfeit a credit, whether it’s based on misunderstanding, limited flexibility, or other general user-unfriendliness.
Not In The Terms and Conditions
Something I’d also like to note is that I couldn’t find this wrinkle in any of the Amex Platinum Hotel Credit terms and conditions. Nowhere does it state that the annual credit must be used on a stay within the same calendar year it was booked. Instead, it seems Amex has opted for a more opaque strategy for this devaluation. Simply making it tougher to book in future years may be effective enough to create more breakage of this benefit. Meanwhile, Amex will continue boldly advertising the Amex Platinum Hotel Credit, with the $695 annual fee at the bottom and in a smaller font size.
Of course, this is just a single conversation I had with one particular agent. They gave me their understanding, and the reality may be something different. That’s partly why I didn’t write about this a few weeks ago in May upon discovery. I wanted to see if 2024 dates would come available in June. Alas, no. But I’m still hopeful for some developments prior to November, while also knowing I must be prepared for the worst. Amex, like other card issuers, is making it tougher for cardholders to maximize benefits. Those truly looking to do so must adapt and overcome.
How has your experience been using the Amex Platinum Hotel Credit? Does this development change how you’ll look at using it in the future?
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